FISHER, John St Opera, quae hactenus inueniri potuerunt omnia,

Würzburg, apud Georgium Fleischmannum, 1597


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (iv), 1772 col. pp. [xxxiii]. ², A-4G , 4H-4M . Roman and Italic letter in double column. Woodcut printer’s device on title, floriated and historiated woodcut initials, woodcut tailpieces, engraved archiepiscopal armorial bookplate on pastedown, various C19th ecclesiastical library stamps on title, early ms exlibris of ‘Bartholomew [?]’ below with bibliographical reference above, further autograph of [?] towards head. Light age yellowing, some browning and spotting, the rare marginal mark or spot. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, remains of ties, title ms on spine.

Rare first edition of the collected Latin works of St. John Fisher, with translations into Latin of his English sermons. John Fisher (1469–1535), appointed bishop of Rochester by Henry VII, was one of the most distinguished churchmen and humanists of the early sixteenth century and Reformation. A friend of Erasmus’s, he introduced the study of Greek and Hebrew to the University of Cambridge, of which he was Chancellor, and was beheaded by Henry VIII for his opposition to the Act of Supremacy. He was a notable preacher and author of the first sermon sequence to be printed in English. Fisher’s Latin theological and controversial writings were more widely read on the European continent, in their day, than the predominantly English religious controversial writings of St. Thomas More and were a key influence on the Catholic Counter-Reformation. According to Fr. Surtz, St. John Fisher’s writings formed an important bridge between the Church Fathers, the Scholastics, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. As Chancellor of Cambridge University, Fisher firmly established in English Universities the “new learning” of the classics, the Scriptures, and the Early Christian Writers in their original languages.

Fisher was brought to trial at Westminster (17th of June 1535) on the charge that he did “openly declare in English that the king, our sovereign lord, is not supreme head on earth of the Church of England,” and was condemned to a traitor’s death at Tyburn, a sentence afterwards changed. He was beheaded on Tower Hill on the 22nd of June 1535, after saying the Te Deum and the psalm In te Domine speravi. His body was buried first at All Hallows, Barking, and then removed to St. Peter’s ad vincula in the Tower, where it lies beside that of Sir Thomas More. His head was exposed on London Bridge and then thrown into the river. On the 9th of December 1886 he was beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

“This contains: 1. “The Assertio septem Sacramentorum” of Henry VIII against Luther, which finds a place in the collection as being ‘Roffensis tamen hortatu et studio edita.’ 2. Fisher’s ‘Defence’ of the ‘Assertio,’ 1523. 3. His treatise in reply to Luther, “De Babylonica Captivitate,” 1523. 4. His ‘Confutatio Assertionis Lutheranæ,’ first printed at Antwerp, 1523. 5. ‘De Eucharistia contra Joan. Œcolampadium libri quinque,’ first printed 1527. 6. ‘Sacri Sacerdotii Defensio contra Lutherum.’ 7. ‘Convulsio calumniarum Vlrichi Veleni Minhoniensis, quibus Petrum nunquam Romæ fuisse cauillatus est,’ 1525. 8. ‘Concio Londini habita vernaculè, quando Lutheri scripta publicè igni tradebantur,’ translated by Richard Pace into Latin, 1521. 9. ‘De unica Magdalena libri tres,’ 1519. Also the following, which the editor states are printed for the first time : 10. ‘Commentarii in vii. Psalmos pœnitentiales, interprete Joanne Fen à monte acuto.’ 11. Two sermons : (a) ‘De Passione Domini,’ (b) ‘De Justitia Pharisæorum,’ 12. ‘Methodus perveniendi ad summam Christianæ religionis perfectionem,’ 13. ‘Epistola ad Hermannum Lætmatium Goudanum de Charitate Christiana.’ At the end (whether printed before or not does not appear) are 14. ‘De Necessitate Orandi.’ 15. ‘Psalmi vel precationes.’” DNB.

BM STC Ger. C16th. p. 458. Lowndes 799. Brunet II 1272.

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